Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Resources for Loving-Kindness

In my last post I talked about doing loving-kindness meditation. I think that it's easy to learn--and, in fact, it is easier for me to do than the sitting-and-following-the-breath, mindfulness meditation most Buddhist teachers encourage people to do.

There are a lot of books around that describe this meditation or variations on it. (Tibetan influenced Buddhists have some amazing meditations that go far beyond loving-kindness--I might write more about this at some point.) Here is an annotated list of some of the books I have read that talk about loving-kindness meditation. For more on the Four Brahmaviharas (or The Divine Abodes, among other names) see my post on 'The Four Gardeners' (2/14/10).

Pema Chödrön, The Places that Scare You Here Pema covers Lovingkindness, as well as Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity, and gives an overview of the Tibetan practices of Tonglen and Lojong which extend loving kindness to a place of taking in suffering and sending out love and happiness.

Gavin Harrison, In the Lap of the Buddha Gavin covers basic insight meditation, but also looks at what he calls 'The Divine Abodes': Lovingkindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity, and Forgiveness practices as well. Written by an HIV positive abuse survivor, it is filled with love and compassion. It has a very nice section on Generosity as well as the Five Buddhist Precepts.

Stephen Levine, A Gradual Awakening A good, basic book on meditation written in a warm friendly tone. Mostly covers basic mindfulness meditation, but he devotes two chapters to Loving-kindness, one of which is a 'guided meditation'.

John Makransky, Awakening Through Love This book begins with the identification of our 'benefactors' followed by an initial meditation on the love given to us by our benefactors. From there he develops the meditation to include mindfulness and loving-kindness meditations, but the initial portion where love is given to us makes these meditations more powerful--once we are filled with love it makes it so much easier to pour love out on the world.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living A book with a bit of everything, from the author's stories about himself and others to looking at how Buddhist meditation has been studied by western science, to chapters on how to meditate. He has a chapter on Loving-kindness and Compassion meditations that also covers Tonglen and Aspiration Bodhicitta. He also includes a chapter on 'The Biology of Compassion'.

Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness This is a classic text on loving-kindness meditation. Covers the Four Brahmaviharas in some detail. Also covers forgiveness meditation.

Quote of the Day: "It takes strong insight and often a good deal of courage to break away from our habitual ways of looking at things, to be able to respond from a different place. Imagine if we dropped our need to be right, our easy perpetuation of what we’re used to, our urge to go along with what others think, and tried to practice what the Buddha taught: 'Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love.'" - Sharon Salzberg

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